The first session of former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday dealt with the company’s relationship with the department of correctional services, officials at the department, and the department’s subsequent awarding of tenders to the company.
The tenders awarded to Bosasa included providing nutritional services to the department, with the company’s subsidiaries Phezulu and Sondolo IT given the tender for erecting fences and installing dysfunctional surveillance equipment in prisons across the country, all of which amounted to billions of rands.
Agrizzi told the commission that Bosasa was given information of a tender by the department to provide fencing before anyone else had the relevant information to prepare tender documents.
He said the fencing contract at the department was initially an estimated at R500 million, an amount which ballooned over time.
Agrizzi said that although on paper the contract was awarded to Phezulu Fencing, “the real beneficiaries of the contract was the Watson family”, referring to the Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson.
Sondolo IT was awarded the contract to install TV net systems in prisons across the country which was worth over R224 million.
Agrizzi’s testimony detailed how Bosasa built the houses of the former commissioner of correctional services, Linda Mti, and the department’s former COO, Patrick Gillingham.
He told the commission that Mti received bribes from Watson, who described the former commissioner as a reliable man who delivered on his promises.
Agrizzi also described how when Bosasa officials got wind that the special investigative unit (SIU) report into allegations of corruption between the company and the department would be released soon, the company’s officials falsified invoices to conceal evidence which would implicate Watson and other senior managers at Bosasa.
The SIU in 2009 referred a report on the department-awarded tenders to Bosasa to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), however, as recent as last year, the authority had not taken any action.
The commission has adjourned for a lunch break.